How To Survive A Poetry Slam

Originally posted 8/13/2011.

How can you deal with it
being so loud?

Recall all the times
you went unheard.

It seems, sometimes,
that the words form
a powerful flood.
What is there to do

when you’re drowning in it?

Recall how the air
you pull into your chest
when you break surface
is cleaner and fresher
for having been riled.

But they use so many words!
How are you supposed to hear them all?

Recall your toys,
how they each got time
from you in turns.
Move yourself among the words
in the same loving way.

It seems, sometimes,
that the passion overpowers
the poetry.  How then
do you worship the craft?

Recall the difference
between rock and roll
and jazz, how each
trips a different trigger,
how one moves hips,
stomps, rags on the moment;
how the other snaps toes and 
fingers, lifts the head
and arcs the back.  
One does not do
what the other does
and each suits its time.

But it seems sometimes
that it’s been said before,
sometimes right before.
How do you 
tell the difference?

Recall that hearing
the story of Cain and Abel
once
has not stopped fratricide.

Are you saying it’s all
a matter of memory?

It is all a matter of memory.

Recall the campfires,
the hunt and the chase,
the grief and joy

of how new we were once.
How thankful we became
upon simply teaching our tongues
to speak of this —

every time it is new to a new listener;
every time, long memory lodges in one ear
as it goes out another.

But even after all that,
it seems so 
overwhelming, so unnecessary…

Remember the first thing
I told you,
that you should recall
what it was to be
unheard?
What part of being human
is so lost to you
that you should feel
so uncomfortable
in the presence
of a need
such as this? 

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About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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